Woodbridge-Based Bank Closes 2,000 Debit Cards Amid Wawa “Compromise”

WOODBRIDGE, NJ–In the wake of Wawa’s data breach incident beginning in early March and recent announcement of actions to contain malware found on its payment processing servers, Northfield Bank closed 2,000 debit cards, according to a bank employee.

“I’m calling to let you know that there has been a debit card compromise…our bank has to close 2,000 debit cards,” an employee at Northfield’s East Brunswick branch told a customer on December 30.

Calling Northfield’s decision to reissue the cards “bank wide,” and citing the “compromise at Wawa,” she said it did not mean any “specific cards” were “involved” — only possibly used “over the past few months” at a Wawa outlet.

The customer purchased a tank of gas on October 12 at the Wawa fuel station on Route 18 in Old Bridge, New Jersey, according to a “Signature POS Debit” on their bank statement.

“As a precautionary measure they…closed the cards,” she said, adding that customers in both New Jersey and New York, were “included.”

The Woodbridge-based financial institution, founded in 1887, operates 39 full service banking offices in those two states only.

But all the cards that Northfield reissued were used in transactions at Wawa during the time period of Wawa’s data breach, confirmed Damien Kane, SVP Marketing Director, Northfield Bank, declining to comment further.

“For security purposes, we do not comment on specifics related to our fraud prevention, mitigation and monitoring methods.”

Still, in a statement that cited consumers “compromised by the breach,” Kane noted Wawa’s December 19 announcement: “Customer information, including credit and debit card numbers, was potentially compromised at all of its locations,” he said in an email.  

“Northfield Bank routinely employs a number of fraud prevention and mitigation methods to protect our customers’ financial data and assets, including the monitoring of externally reported data compromises, and when deemed appropriate, the issuance of new debit cards,” added Kane.

Northfield has 18 branches in New Jersey, a dozen in Staten Island, New York, and nine in Brooklyn, New York.

It recently acquired Victory Savings, a financial institution with six locations in Staten Island, saying December 23, jointly with Victory’s parent company, VSB Bancorp, that “VSB will merge with and into Northfield,” to expand its footprint, according to a release.

Lori Bruce, Wawa Inc.’s public relations manager, declined to comment on whether other banks have taken steps to close debit cards, referring requests for comment to a general statement and resources the company released before Christmas.

And Kane, the Northfield media contact, said he isn’t aware of what other banks are doing related to the incident.

Affected Northfield customers should receive new cards in a couple of days, according to the bank.

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Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.